Thursday, March 19, 2009


Challenges abound when you're taking martial arts. There are people who will ask you frequently (as happens at my office), "WHY are you taking martial arts?!" They obviously don't understand the passion there, or the reasons behind it.
I joined martial arts after taking my daughter to a class. She wasn't interested in the class at the time because she "felt funny with all the bowing", but I found myself drawn to it. I tried two classes and that was it. I found my niche.
That was back in 2004.

I was told that I had "tried to quit" a number of times, which I truly don't remember. I stuck it out, even after several people left. I thought I wanted to teach, to help people learn what I knew. I signed up for a "CIT" or Certified Instructor Training class when I reached Cho Dan Bo. I attended many classes, assisted with the Little Ninjas class and felt that I was doing okay.
I kept working toward my black belt, which I subsequently earned.
After my belt, things still were working out in my favor, or so I thought. I continued on my path toward "leadership". I helped out more with the LN class, until it was "mainstreamed" and became part of the "white belt class". I continued to try to maintain a positive attitude, despite all the changes that were taking place.

In July, 2008, I made a decision that was not easy. I left the school I'd been attending since 2004, the one I earned my belt in. I had suddenly felt that I was going nowhere...I wasn't teaching anything, I wasn't allowed to teach when I was supposed to teach. Classes weren't the same. I won't say they were bad, but they were different.

I wanted to continue taking martial arts. I felt that it was something I was drawn to. I looked into a Taekwondo school, but didn't feel it was for me. I didn't want to change my discipline. I wanted to stay with Tang Soo Do.
I spoke to the head of my then Federation, who gave me a recommendation of what to look for. Then I went to a school I'd been referred to. I communicated with the owner of that school, attended several trial classes and felt that I was where I needed to be.

I still feel that I need to be there, but now I'm questioning myself. I have this really bad habit of questioning what I'm doing and second guessing myself. When I was at the other place, I earned a belt. I second guess myself on whether or not the belt was deserved. I am working oh so much harder than I ever did and yet, I feel that I'm floundering. You can see the differences in the schools. The quality of instruction is extremely high. I need to stop comparing myself to the people I train with. I am me and not them. I came from a different tradition, even though it is still TSD. I know this and yet, in my own eyes, I am second guessing. I find myself questioning WHY I am doing things, but then I ask, "why am I still doing martial arts? I earned a black belt. Shouldn't I let that be an achievement in and of itself?" The answer to that question, in my heart, is NO. I love martial arts. I like the "high" I feel when I work out. I may not be the smallest person in my class. I'm like 75+ pounds overweight. I have to make concessions in my training. I just have to work out the self doubt and get my butt into each and every class and then just work as hard as I can.

Even if the people I work with don't understand WHY I am taking classes, I understand. Well, okay, I THINK I understand! I'm not out to be a grand champion cage fighter or anything like that. I'm just out to be the best I can be. I've seen my self esteem grow in the past four or five years. I'm now volunteering for extra responsibility at work and in my own personal life.
THAT is why I am taking classes. I'm doing it for me. There's a side effect and it's a positive one. I am learning self defense at the same time. It may not show, and just because one man in my company can reach out and intimidate me (he's bigger than me and uses that to his advantage), it doesn't mean that my classes are for nothing. I just have to address his sarcasm and his disbelief and then channel it to my advantage.

The question isn't "WHY are you taking it?" The question should be, "What are you taking out of it?"

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